I have now returned from my latest trip to Zimbabwe, and I wanted to update you on how the trip went, and most importantly, how our kids are getting on!
It would be really nice if young people worked hard always and gave no trouble! That was one of my thoughts during the past few weeks in Zimbabwe, but life is not as simple as that. So we began with problems: I had only just arrived at one centre when we heard that one of our boys had been taken off to the police station accused of a crime. We rushed down there and found him already released along with some friends. It turned out not to be as serious as feared and with some persuasion the school cooperated in helping us sort out his life.
Then the O level results came out and two of our young people failed almost every subject. It was not entirely surprising to us but devastating for them. They are good youngsters and did the best they could in difficult times. They have learned a lot despite their failures and we will now try and find them something else to do.
Both these lads we almost despaired of in primary school; they seemed to have no interest in anything but playing football. But slowly they have woken up. They did well enough (just!) to go on to secondary school. Both have troubled backgrounds but they have reached an age when they can begin to talk about them.
When I got Walter to talk with Lucky to find out why he so often looked so miserable he said “Because I’m hungry.” This is going to be a hungry year with a catastrophic failure of crops. We can feed our own youngsters. We are going to try and feed a lot more. We also need to work harder on supporting the boys in their studies with books, teaching and encouragement. Walter and his brother Addreck are going to help us with that in return for the help we give them.
Some of our visits were sheer delight: Rejoice, Munashe and Tinotenda have got into St Matthias Tsonzo, an Anglican school in the Eastern districts and are thrilled to be there. Boarding school takes them away from the chores and trials of home and they can concentrate on their studies and their sport.
Then Memory, from the desperately poor area of Shurugwi, did well enough to get into Daramombe School. She met us with such a big smile on her face I didn’t have to ask if she was happy.
Behind all this the troubles of the country rumble on. In our face was the worst drought the country has had since records were kept. Somehow they need to find more than a million tons of grain to feed the people. The economy goes on declining as ZANU-PF politicians concentrate their efforts on looting it while they can. Joyce Mujuru has founded a new party which may finally displace ZANU-PF when Mugabe dies, though probably not before. No one really knows what will happen next but we pray for good. And we hope that by the time these kids are ready to leave school there will be an exciting world for them to move into.
You can help them you know. Schooling is expensive, especially boarding schools which our hard working kids really deserve and need. It costs about £400 to keep one of them there for a term and we have 11 in boarding schools alone. Can you help us to support them?
Thank you for everything you do to support us. Life in Zimbabwe is hard, but the children we support have hope and faith that the future will be better, and thanks to you, theirs will be.
God’s blessings be upon you.
Father Nicolas Stebbing CR
P.S. With your help I was able to buy a new car to drive around, visit our projects and drop off supplies, so that is at least one problem solved!